Bad news for highway users. Questioned on RMC this Wednesday morning, the Minister for Transport confirmed that motorway toll rates would increase, like every year, on February 1st. The increase will, however, be lower than inflation: after a jump of 4.75% on average in 2023, prices will increase by less than 3% next year, declared Clément Beaune. The “increase will be limited, less than 3%”, from February 1, he indicated, denouncing “misinformation” and “lies” about this increase.
Last September, the announcement of a tax on motorway companies to “finance investment in the ecological transition and in rail” led to a standoff via the media between the government and private actors. , who warned that this levy risked leading to a rise in prices. “An increase in taxes inevitably means an increase in tolls,” warned the president of Vinci Autoroutes, Pierre Coppey.
In fact, this is not the case, replied Clément Beaune this Wednesday. This tax “has no impact on the evolution of tolls”. The words of "certain motorway companies" are therefore false: the increase "will be much less strong than last year", on average, and the State will oppose companies which would be tempted to increase prices for integrate this tax. “It is the State which, in the end, takes a legal text which validates this evolution of tolls”, affirmed the Minister Delegate, recalling that the companies and the State were united by “contracts”. Talking about “passing on the tax” therefore amounts to not telling the “truth”, he assured.
As a reminder, toll rates are reviewed every year on February 1st. The increases are supervised and ratified by the Council of State. They depend heavily on annual inflation, as provided for in the concession contracts. The price paid by the user is distributed between several players, explains the Association of French Motorway and Toll Works Companies (ASFA). Out of ten euros, 3.6 euros goes into taxes in the State's pocket, the rest going to the operator. 2.2 euros are used to build and modernize the network, 1.2 euros are used for operation and service, and three euros to repay the debt and remunerate investors.
In recent months, the executive has encouraged concession companies to make efforts to relieve household wallets, failing to lower their prices. Vinci Autoroutes, for example, announced a move last January for “home-work travel” for motorists. Since then, the situation has worsened, while the State hopes to draw 600 million euros from its future tax “on large operations of long-distance transport infrastructure”, distributed between large motorways and large airports. “It is inevitably also an increase in prices which we estimate today of around 5% taking into account a tax of 4.6% on motorway turnover,” Pierre retorted this month Coppey. An argument swept aside by Clément Beaune, therefore. It remains to be seen what figure will ultimately be retained by the stakeholders: the standoff is not yet over.